Despite the seemingly stable nature of Russian-Indian relations, the level of Russia's strategic influence in this largest Eurasian power is declining. The Russian foreign policy course focused on the concept of a strategic triangle, the decorative projects of BRICS and the SCO, are increasingly not in line with the real picture of the situation in South Asia and the Asia-Pacific region. Therefore, today the Russian Federation is facing a fateful choice: to pursue a meaningless multi-vector policy or to take decisive steps to form the military-political axis Moscow-New Delhi.
23 – 24 June in India, US Secretary of State John Kerry paid an official visit to India. The American-Indian talks were held on such important issues as the evolution of the regional architecture of Asia, the settlement of the crisis in Afghanistan, military-technical cooperation. The main outcome of Kerry’s talks with the heads of the government and the Foreign Ministry of India was an agreement to expand cooperation in the fields of energy, high technology, and defense and security.
We emphasize that the questions that John Kerry discussed in New Delhi, not only are of great importance for Russia, but directly affect its strategic interests. And the fact that India prefers to negotiate with the United States on these issues testifies to serious miscalculations of Russian foreign policy in a strategically important Indian sector.
"The United States not only welcomes the rise of India as a world power, but also intends to help this in every way," said John Kerry in New Delhi with a policy statement. And these are not empty words. Over the past five years, the United States has been developing a consistent course towards rapprochement with India. Recall that 18 July 2009, the then American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived on a visit to the Indian capital and announced: "A new era is beginning in relations between India and the United States." The starting point of this new era was the signing of a bilateral agreement on the control by the United States of America over the use of modern types of weapons in the Indian armed forces. At present, bilateral trade has exceeded 100 billions of dollars, while American investments in India have exceeded 25 billions. At the same time, Kerry stressed that this is not the limit: the United States seeks to maximize the presence of its business in India, which in the next ten years should become the third economy in the world. For comparison: according to official data of the Foreign Economic Information Portal of the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation, in 2012, the Russian-Indian trade turnover amounted to 11 billion dollars, the volume of accumulated Russian investments in the economy of India is 623,5 million dollars.
A particular problem is the tendency over the past four years to a noticeable weakening of Russia's position in the arms market of India. So, on June 11, the Indian Air Force made the final decision on replacing the Russian Il-76 transport aircraft with the American S-17. The Calcutta Telegraph noted: “The era of Russian leadership in Indian transport aviation starting to end. ” One can recall other examples illustrating this alarming trend: the loss of the Indian tender by the MiG-35 fighter, a Mi-28 combat helicopter, and a Mi-25T2 transport helicopter. In general, over the past two years, Russia has lost more than $ 13 billion in contracts in India. Moreover, the previously unshakable positions of Russian military equipment are being intercepted by the United States and NATO countries.
The reduction of total exports of weapons and military equipment from Russia to India is traditionally explained by domestic manufacturers and experts with purely technical problems: higher prices for components, a significant increase in the innovation and technological requirements of the Indian side for technology, and so on. At the same time, the obvious fact is that silence is maintained that military-technical cooperation is closely interconnected with political strategy. That is, if we call India the largest market for weapons and military equipment, then this in itself implies the corresponding obligations of a military-political plan. Only a few Russian experts directly cite the underlying causes of India’s increasing orientation toward military-technical cooperation with the United States and NATO. Thus, the expert of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies (CAST), Ruslan Aliev, defines the political and not the technical reason as the main one: “There are global strategic priorities of the country. Indians fear the growth of China’s economic and military power, and a series of large orders from the United States is driven by a desire to strengthen its military-political partnership with Washington. ” From this point of view, the growing anti-American rhetoric of the Kremlin and continuous overtures to China as a priority strategic partner cause at least incomprehension in New Delhi.
Air castles of the Russian strategy
Recently, the Chinese-language Chinese publication China Star published a huge article titled: "The Russia-China-India Strategic Triangle: The Reality of Configuration." The article begins with smoking incense for Moscow’s wise foreign policy: “In December 1998, Russian Prime Minister Ye.M. Primakov during an official visit to India expressed the opinion that it would be desirable to form a“ strategic triangle Moscow - New Delhi - Beijing ”. The words of the then head of the Russian government turned out to be, though unexpected, but very logical. Said in New Delhi, they underlined Russia's interest in strengthening ties between India and China under conditions when Moscow expressed dissatisfaction with the bombing of Iraq’s territory by American aircraft. ” The whole tone of the article leaves no doubt as to who actually benefits the idea of a strategic triangle. However, with Primakov’s resignation, this initially doomed idea continued to be the subject of serious Kremlin foreign policy plans. We can recall how in June 2002, the American newspaper Christian Science Monitor stated: "The Kremlin is building a strategic triangle with China and India." Further, in 2008, the pages of some Russian publications still flashed solemn toasts in honor of the decade of the strategic triangle. As a result, the whole decade was lost for the sake of building an air lock.
Moreover, the fascination with the idea of one air castle led to the creation of other air castles, outwardly reminding oneself, if I may say so, the principle of the matryoshka, when grandiose geopolitical projects from a series of strategic triangles were consistently inserted one into the other. This is exactly how projects such as the SCO (BRIC) should be regarded. Currently, the main problem is that such projects were created in relation to the conditions of the military-political situation in the world, which are now irrelevant and have undergone very significant changes. If we recall the adventurous, frankly anti-Russian policy of the Bush administration, it should be recognized that the concept of creating a counterbalance to the US and NATO through the SCO was certainly correct. But today, in parallel with the changing nature of external threats, objective assessments of the outcome of the SCO project have emerged. So, 7 June 2012, the president of the National Strategy Institute, Mikhail Remizov, in an interview with the Internet publication Km. Ru ”made the following remarkable statement:“ The development of our relations with China is of some concern. The SCO, in my opinion, is mainly a Chinese project and its name reflects the essence of the matter. The influence of China is predominant. ”
Thus, the loss of Russia's position in India, both political and economic, has begun - so far the first fruits of the air castles of the Russian strategy. The continuation of the so-called multi-vector policy may have much worse consequences.
Impasse of a multi-vector policy
The National Security Strategy of the Russian Federation adopted by 12 in May of 2009 contains the following provision: “Transition from bloc confrontation to the principles of a multi-vector policy”. Theoretically, this situation seems to be optimal. But if we apply it to the real practical steps of Russia with respect to India and China, then we get the following picture.
27 September 2010 of the year. Moscow and Beijing signed a joint statement on the comprehensive deepening of the Russian-Chinese strategic partnership. An agreement between the Russian Federation and the People's Republic of China on cooperation in the fight against terrorism, separatism and extremism was also signed.
December 21 2010 of the year. Russia and India signed an agreement on joint fight against terrorism and the exchange of intelligence information. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated that the Russian-Indian strategic partnership implies not only the highest level of mutual trust, compatibility of fundamental national interests, coincidence of the goals and objectives of the development of the two countries, proximity to most of the pressing problems of modernity, but also scale and prospects cooperation.
28 May 2013. A decision was taken on Russian-Chinese anti-terrorism exercises in Chebarkul. “From 1 to 15 in August, Russia and China will hold joint anti-terrorism exercises at the Chebarkul testing ground,” said Colonel Yaroslav Roshchupkin, head of the press service of the Central Military District.
11 June 2013 of the year. The Russian-Indian exercise Indra-2013 was agreed upon, in which the military personnel of the Eastern Military District will take part. This year, these anti-terrorism maneuvers will be held in October at the Makhadzhan testing ground in India.
At first glance, nothing special. But a few weeks before Russia's decision to conduct joint military exercises with China on the Indian-Chinese border, a serious incident occurred. Recall that on April 15, the PLA division crossed the border with India in Ladakh, which for fifty years has been a zone of smoldering border conflict. Indian border guards met the Chinese. The settlement of the incident took place on May 5: the military of both sides retreated to their original positions. We emphasize that Indian experts predict the beginning of a war between the two leading Asian powers in the coming decade. De facto, India is now in the process of forming military-political alliances in order to deter a potential aggressor. Therefore, Russia's multi-vector policy is not the best way to strengthen relations with India.
For completeness, let us consider the export of Russian weapons through the prism of a multi-vector policy.
24 December 2012 Moscow has concluded several agreements with New Delhi in the field of military-technical cooperation for a total of 2,9 billion dollars. In particular, the domestic military-industrial complex will supply technological kits for licensed assembly of X-NUMX Su-42MKI fighters to India.
17 June 2013, the Russian mass media have reported that Russia will supply China with a batch of the latest Su-35 multi-role fighters. The question of the delivery of China’s Su-35 aircraft, as well as anti-aircraft and naval equipment was discussed in March during a visit to Moscow by a Chinese state delegation led by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Note that the Su-35С is a deeply modernized super-maneuverable multi-role fighter of the “4 ++” generation, with its tactical and technical characteristics significantly superior to the Su-30МКИ. In addition, India, through the words of the Chief of the General Staff of the Navy, Admiral Devendra Kumara Joshi, directly announced that China’s building up of naval power is the main concern for India. At the same time, within the framework of a multi-vector policy, Moscow is trying to export weapons another potential Indian rival is Pakistan. Even Russian experts consider such a course to be erroneous. Thus, Sergei Lunev, an expert in diplomacy and foreign policy issues, stated in the pages of the International Processes publication: “A substantial strengthening of relations with Pakistan, especially in the military-political sphere, seems to be unpromising. Supplies of military equipment can have only negative consequences. Pakistan is not so much willing to strengthen its defense capability, as it is trying to break Russian-Indian military-political ties. Russia in the 2011 year was unhappy with the loss of the tender for the supply of India 126 multi-purpose fighters and New Delhi’s attempts to purchase spare parts for Russian weapons from third countries. However, the desire to "punish" your partner by selling arms to Pakistan will cause only a sharp reaction from India. Even commercially, given Pakistan’s low solvency, losses will be large. ”
Taking into account all these “costs” of a multi-vector policy, there is no surprise at the gradual decline of Russian influence in India, both militarily and politically and economically.
Axis Moscow - New Delhi
On May 31, talks were held in Tokyo between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The results of these negotiations can be judged from the reports of leading news agencies: "Japan and India are creating a new axis in Asia." Special mention should be made of the point of view of the official Indian media: India and Japan raised the level of their strategic partnership to a new level, committed themselves to working together in the interests of stability in the Asia-Pacific region, where China is increasingly playing muscles. In particular, the subject of the agreement was the expansion of military-technical cooperation. India and Japan have agreed to conduct joint naval maneuvers, Japanese companies will be able to supply military aircraft and nuclear reactors to the Indian Air Force. Needless to say, henceforth, Russian exporters now have another serious competitor.
It is interesting to note that Russian officials have repeatedly criticized Ukraine for carrying out a multi-vector policy and have proved its futility to the Ukrainian authorities. But what is the real future of the domestic political course in the same format? Obviously, such a course has an extremely limited efficiency. And its result will only be the progressive ousting of Russia from India by the United States, Japan, and other interested parties. Meanwhile, taking into account the ever-increasing weight of New Delhi in the international arena and in the world economy, it is time to sound the alarm and take urgent measures to correct errors. Moreover, one of the main problems is that Russia today has virtually no reliable, militarily and economically strong allies. Given the ever-increasing level of tension in international relations and the increasingly distinct threat of a new world war, the issue of a military-political alliance with India is becoming critically important.
In this situation, the only right decision is to immediately turn the Russian foreign policy towards the formation of the Moscow-New Delhi axis. As the classic said, death delay is like. The potential of Russian-Indian cooperation is a very significant value. If we talk about the position of India itself, then it continues to demonstrate readiness for reciprocal steps. So, 21 in March, official New Delhi announced its intention to discuss with Moscow the possibility of signing an agreement on full economic cooperation with the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. The head of the Eurasian Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of India, Ajay Bisaria, said: "The agreement on free trade between the CU and India will significantly increase the volume of trade between India and Russia." Thus, our country has a unique chance to give new impetus to Russian-Indian cooperation. If behind this first step there will be a clearly developed strategic plan for creating the Moscow-New Delhi axis, then such a union of two historically and politically close great powers will have a direct impact on the entire future course of the world. stories.